Putin Declares Victory in Russian Presidential Election

James Brooke

Vladimir Putin has claimed victory in Russia’s presidential election, putting him on track to rule Russia through 2018.

With only one third of the votes counted in Russia's Presidential election, Vladimir Putin bounded up the steps of a stage in front of the Kremlin and faced a sea of Russian flags and a massive crowd estimated by police at 110,000 people. "We won," he said.

Early returns and two nationwide exit polls give Vladimir Putin a comfortable victory in his quest for a record third term as president.

The VTsIOM poll gave him 58 percent, the FOM poll gave him 59 percent and one-half of ballots cast gave him 64 percent.

Mr. Putin needs more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second-round runoff against one of his rivals.

The polls and returns indicate that the Communist Party candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, will come in second. Third place will go to Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire standard-bearer of Russia’s newly restive urban middle class.

Zyuganov denounced the election in a stinging 10-minute tirade broadcast nationally. The communist leader called the elections “illegitimate, unfair and not transparent.”

Prokhorov also called the elections unfair, saying “I deliberately agreed to play by someone else’s rules.”

The website of Golos, an independent watchdog agency, registered more than 3,000 complaints of alleged voting law violations.

Charges included “carousel” voting, which involved busing voters from one polling station to another to cast absentee ballots. Others complained of doctored voting lists. One woman in Siberia complained that she found that her dead family members had cast ballots Sunday.

According to others, pro-Kremlin business leaders installed voting booths in factories, pressuring workers to vote for Mr. Putin.

As polls started to close in European Russia, Grigory Melkonyants, spokesman for Golos, spoke to VOA. He said that if the elections had been clean, Mr. Putin would have had to face a second round. But, he said, the volume of fraud complaints was as high this time as in the parliamentary elections three months ago.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, told the Interfax news agency that he doubts the results reflect the true will of Russians. He said the challenge now is to change Russia’s election system to make voting fair, and to restore direct election for governors.

But Stanislav Govorukhin, a Putin campaign director, rebutted these claims. He told reporters, “This was the purest election in Russia’s history.”

Accusations of fraud in the parliamentary vote sparked the largest street protests against Mr. Putin in his 12 years in power, from 2000 to 2008 as president and the last four as prime minister.

On Sunday, as polls started to close in western Russia, central Moscow looked more and more like an armed camp. Lines of police officers ringed the Kremlin. Riot police marched in formation. Dozens of gray prison trucks lined the streets.

Alleging a bomb scare, police forced a parallel vote-counting group to vacate their offices and stand on the street.

Pro-Kremlin groups occupied four central Moscow squares. Mikhail Dukhovich, a 30-year-old pro-Putin activist, was setting up for a block party on a square in front of the looming building of the state security services, formerly known as the KGB. “Vladimir Putin is the only candidate, the one and only real candidate who makes real deals, not only speaks about them like other candidates," he said.

As he spoke, city streets filled with hundreds of buses, bringing Russians from outside Moscow to the Putin victory concerts and laser shows.

Monday will be the opposition’s chance to show its strength. A mass protest is scheduled for Pushkin Square, a downtown protest point that is at the crossroads of three subway lines. As election officials announced that Mr. Putin was on the road to victory, the number of people signing up for the protest on a Facebook page jumped more than 7,000.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs